It’s always frustrating to forget why you walked into a room, or to forget someone’s name right after being introduced. Before worrying that annoyances like these are signs of a memory problem, try out some simple techniques that may naturally enhance your short term memory.
Focus on what you want to remember.
Scientifically speaking, short term memory only lasts around 15-30 seconds—after that, the information is either discarded or moved to long term memory. Therefore, focusing closely on a new piece of info for 15-30 seconds can keep it in your short term memory and may help transfer it to your long term memory.
Engage multiple senses.
Using your senses increases focus and builds memory-helping associations. When you meet someone new, listen carefully and look directly at them as they state their name. Repeat their name immediately afterward. Shake their hand and feel their grip. Even take notice of their perfume or cologne! The more sensory associations you build, the more firmly the memory is encoded.
Utilize mnemonic devices.
These visual and verbal techniques really help with multiple bits of information. Do you still remember learning “VIBGYOR” in school to keep track of the order of colors in the rainbow? Mnemonic devices can really stick in your memory! Try constructing colorful, even silly visualizations or verbalizations to help encode a group of things in your short-term memory.
Lay out structured associations.
Memorize the primary pieces of info and how the secondary pieces relate to them. In other words, prioritize remembering the most vital information, but also focus on memorizing the structure that connects this vital info to the less important material you also want to remember. Essentially you’re creating a mental “bubble map”—where the central bubble contains the main info and is connected by lines to surrounding bubbles containing supporting info.
Eat a brain-healthy diet.
Healthy food choices are good for your brain and may improve your memory. By and large, the healthy, balanced diet you should strive to achieve for overall health is also what is needed for a healthy brain that is better primed to encode memories. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, add in lean proteins and whole grains, and cut back on saturated fats, sodium, and sugars.